Cal ace Jared Horn pitched the first complete game of his college career in the Bears' important 3-2 victory over Arizona State on Sunday. But it did not come without a moment of anxiety.
Gage Workman's seemingly routine flyball to center with two outs and no one on base in the top of the ninth looked like it would produce the game's final out with Cal clinging to a one-run lead. But Cal center fielder Cameron Eden inexplicably misplayed the ball, allowing it to shoot past him and go all the way to the center-field wall.
Workman got as far as third, but Cal head coach Mike Neu was just pleased he was not able to circle the bases.
"Once we held him at third, I didn't feel great, but I felt Jared would do what he needed to do," Neu said.
Indeed Horn (above in the video) did exactly what he needed to do as he struck out Arizona State's next batter, Carter Aldrete, to end the game.
"It's fun with a little more hair on it," Horn said. "Tying run on third made it a little more exciting."
It allowed Cal (30-18, 15-11 Pac-12) to get a split of the two-game series with the Sun Devils (36-15, 15-11) as the teams agreed not to play the second game of the scheduled doubleheader because of the threat of further rain and Arizona State's travel schedule.
Horn improved his record to 6-1 while allowing five hits -- including two home runs -- and striking out nine while seeing his ERA rise slightly to 1.82.
He even had to endure a 30-minute rain delay in the top of the seventh inning. The rain was pouring down as Aldrete hit a home run with two outs in that inning to reduce the Cal lead to 3-2, and the game was interrupted at that point.
But Horn was back out there when play resumed.
"I kind of forced my will," Horn said. "I wanted to get back in the game."
There was no discussion about Horn being replaced after the rain delay, but it might have been different if the rain had continued for an extended period.
"We were hoping (the delay) was a short, and we were lucky it was," Neu said.
RBI singles by Andrew Vaughn and Korey Lee in the second inning and an RBI single by Eden in the sixth were enough to offset home runs by Arizona State's Spencer Torkelson and Andrete.
Vaughn finished the day 2-for-2 with two walks, rasiing his average to .385.
The Bears probably should have scored more runs, after collecting nine hits and being the recipients of four walks and two hit batters. But they got just enough.
The misplay by Eden nothwithstanding, Cal played excellent defense Sunday. Right fielder Max Flowers stole a home run from Trevor Hauver when he jumped and reached over the right-field fence to grab a shot for the final out of the fourth inning. Cal second baseman Darren Baker made two outstanding plays on ground balls, once ranging far to his left and other time making a play behind the second-base bag to erase two would-be hits.
""This (win) was big," Neu said, "especially coming off Friday, where he had a tough one. We felt like we had that game.
"Gradually we're learning how to finish games."
Cal finishes the regular season with a three-game road series against Washington next weekend.